ReFo: Bears @ Rams, Week 12
Eight hundred thirty yards and 63 points after this one started, the Rams came away with a victory that was far closer than the final score suggests. It was a game that featured one of the worst grades and one of the best grades we’ve ever given, but in the end it was a tale of two offensive lines. The Rams succeeded on offense because of their offensive line, while the Bears’ success came despite theirs.
The Rams line finished with a total grade of +7.7 while the Bears finished at -17.3. Unbelievably, the Rams gained 258 yards on the ground and had just 59 yards after contact while the Bears gained 80 yards on the ground and had 83 yards after contact. That imbalance was undoubtedly the difference in this game.
With the loss the Bears drop to 6-5, but remain tied with the Lions atop the NFC North. Next week they travel to Minnesota in a must win divisional game. If there was ever a game to get Lance Briggs back it would be this one. Teams have been averaging 197 yards rushing against the Bears since Briggs went down and Adrian Peterson has been our second most elusive running back this season.
The win moves the Rams to 5-6 and gives them 79 points in their last two games. That offensive explosion can be thanked in large part to Tavon Austin who is finally carving out a role in the Rams’ offense. They travel to San Francisco next week and if they want any chance of making the playoffs, they better win that game.
Chicago – Three Performances of Note
Left Tackles Worst Nightmare
Blocking Robert Quinn on turf has proved to be one of the most, if not the most, challenging assignment all season. Having obvious passing situations, which the Bears found themselves in quite a bit, just exacerbates the problem. On Sunday Jermon Bushrod found this out all too well as his unheard of -11.1 grade would imply. Bushrod gave up one sack and seven hurries, but the speed at which those pressures came was astounding. On three separate occasions the left tackle was beaten within two seconds of the snap, or about the same amount of time it takes a quarterback to reach his landing point on a seven-step drop. He also had a terrible day run blocking (-2.9) as he struggled to engage Quinn all day.
If you are looking for the reason the Rams’ offense ran for 258 yards and 8.9 YPC, look no further than the three linebackers. Khaseem Greene (-2.8), James Anderson (-3.1), and Jon Bostic (-5.0) took it on the chin against the Rams’ offensive line. The Rams took advantage of the linebackers’ lack of discipline all day long, using a heavy dose of runs with misdirection, designed cutbacks, and pulling linemen on the edge. On one particular play in the second quarter with 2:44 remaining, all three managed to be sealed out and overrun an outside run from Zac Stacy. All three were again rendered useless on Tavon Austin’s 65-yard touchdown on the first drive of the game. It was a poor performance that has unfortunately become expected from the team that is last in the league against the run, averaging 145.2 yards allowed.
Too Many Mistakes
The Bears offense was better than their point total on Sunday. They were consistently able to move the football and finished with 424 total yards, but somehow it didn’t translate to points. Their skills players were solid for the most part with Josh McCown (+1.6), Brandon Marshall (+3.8), Martellus Bennett (+2.9), and Matt Forte (+2.3) all putting up top-notch grades. The one thing that hampered the offense all day, though, was mistakes. Whether it was Forte’s fumble, Michael Bush’s drop at the goal line, Tony Fiammetta’s hold on the end around, Craig Steltz’ hold on Devin Hester’s return touchdown, or Earl Bennett’s block in the back, the Bears found a way to shoot themselves in the foot one too many times. Those mistakes were just compounded by a shoddy offensive line. The goal-line stand in the third quarter was a microcosm for the game. A careless error (Bush’s drop), an almost immediate pressure, and a blown up offensive line led to zero points and a Bears loss.
St. Louis – Three Performances of Note
Freak of Nature
Watching Robert Quinn on Sunday was one of the most impressive performances you’ll see on a football field this season. When it comes to pass rushing no one has a better grade than the Rams’ defensive end and after Sunday Quinn also owns the season’s highest-graded game at +12.9. Quinn may have only had one sack, but his eight hurries and two hits were some of the most dominant you’ll see all season. The amazing part was that Quinn used just two pass rushing moves all day long, the speed rush and the inside counter off of it. Jermon Bushod simply did not have the athletic ability to defend Quinn when the quarterback took a deep drop. For the season Quinn leads all 4-3 ends with a pass rushing productivity of 16.2, which would be the highest single season PRP we’ve ever seen.
Taking to Guard
Rodger Saffold could have easily packed it in after Week 10 this season. The team’s 2012 left tackle had just been ‘demoted’ for the second time in the past year and would be starting at guard for the first time in his professional career. He didn’t call it quits, though, and against the Bears he looked like a natural at right guard. Saffold was an absolute bruiser in the running game, an area he never quite mastered at tackle. The fourth-year player did most of that work as a pulling blocker. Whether it was on power or on the many cross blocks the Rams run to run to the edge, Saffold dominating linebackers at the point of attack. It was an outstanding performance as is evident by his +4.4 grade, and his play at guard has been a boon for a steadily improving offensive line.
So That’s Why He Hasn’t Played Much
With Cortland Finnegan grading out as our worst cornerback this season and a rookie fifth-round pick wasting away on the bench, one might wonder why Brandon McGee didn’t see more action. With Finnegan injured, and with Trumain Johnson taking an early exit we finally got to see why. McGee just isn’t quite an NFL cornerback yet. The rookie out of Miami played 57 snaps (only played five previously in his career) with 23 coming from the slot and finished with a -4.9 grade. The most disheartening part was the three penalties. McGee’s first instinct, it seemed, when he feared he would be beat was to lock in to the receiver’s jersey and not let go. Besides the penalties McGee allowed five of five targets for 57 yards in an all-around dreadful debut for the rookie.
– Brandon Marshall caught 10 of 11 targets with his only miss being a dropped pass.
– The Rams offense covered up some sloppy play on the back end as the defense missed 16 tackles.
– Kellen Clemens was amazingly accurate on his deep passes, earning a grade of +4.3 on throws over 20 yards. He only completed three of his five targets, but Chris Givens dropped one and was unable to keep both feet in bounds on another.
PFF Game Ball
With the third best single game grade we’ve ever given a 4-3 defensive end, and with the game clinching sack/fumble/touchdown, Robert Quinn more than earned this game ball.
Follow Mike on Twitter: @PFF_MikeRenner